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YouTubers call controversial, top creators ‘disheartening’, ask for better monetization

‘It’s disheartening to see those types of streamers earning those types of views’

Tribeca TV Festival Premiere Of YouTube Creators For Change Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Tribeca TV Festival

YouTubers in the company’s Creators for Change program want it to give more attention to smaller and more positive video creators in light of recent controversies involving larger personalities.

L-Fresh the Lion, Tasneem "Tazzy" Phe and Sam Saffold premiered short films they had made for YouTube’s Creators for Change program at Tribeca’s TV festival this past weekend in New York City. Each film addressed important topics, from xenophobia and racism to self-acceptance and peace. The Creators for Change program promotes YouTubers who want to put forth a positive message.

Top YouTube personalities have been caught up in controversies over the past few months, ranging from Nazi jokes and racist terms uttered in livestreams to cryptocurrency scandals. Saffold told Polygon he was disappointed that some of YouTube’s most divisive personalities get the most attention.

“It’s disheartening to see those types of streamers earning those types of views,” Saffold said. “They’re the top bowers, and that’s ... it’s just really disheartening. It’s our duty to not promote just the negative, but the positive. There are so many positive YouTubers who don’t get the attention they deserve.”

In particular, Saffold was troubled by the effect this publicity has had on YouTubers monetizing their work. In particIn June, YouTube published new guidelines for video monetization that made it harder for YouTubers to make money off of their uploads. The change came after YouTube faced a threat of mass exodus from advertisers following the discovery that their ads were showing up on videos or channels that promoted hate or vulgar jokes. The algorithm change affected thousands of YouTubers who noticed that videos once considered approved for monetization were no longer friendly enough.

Videos hit by the algorithm change included LGBTQ channels and videos, which were hidden by YouTube’s restricted mode. The mode, which has been around for years, hides objectionable content, like violence, nudity, or vulgar language. If the mode is activated, videos listed as such will not appear. Let’s Play videos were also hit hard by the monetization changes and the issue is a growing concern.

Saffold said that he’s spoken to many creators who are worried about the changing monetization policies, adding that because their content includes conversation about delicate subject matter, YouTube often restricts it. That leads to fewer viewers and less attention.

“I do know many creators that aren’t making the type of videos they want because they’re worried those videos won’t get the attention they deserve because of these blankets in place,” Saffold said. “I’m hoping that in time, the people who are playing around with controversial things are getting the attention they deserve. Views aren’t the most important thing in the world, but they do matter.

“It does send a message to those who want to make interesting, thought-provoking videos but can’t because of the new monetization policy when other streamers have millions of views for other types of videos.”

YouTube is trying to work through the algorithm issues its creators are facing. In late August, Ryan Wyatt, head of gaming, content and partnerships at YouTube, addressed the issue a majority of creators was facing. Wyatt specified that YouTube had made it easier for creators to appeal the monetization changes.

In the last few months we spent time addressing concerns from advertisers around where their ads are placed. With new controls and guidelines implemented, many creators have seen their earnings return to normal as advertisers resumed their campaigns. As a part of these recent changes, however, some videos were classified as not suitable for all advertisers, limiting the number of ads served on those videos. There was also no ability to directly appeal in Video Manager. So on August 7th, we announced that we’ve expanded the ability for creators to appeal videos that have been receiving fewer ads.

Saffold said that through programs like Creators for Change, YouTube is making the right moves to highlight positive content. Saffold added that it’s not just on the company to do better, but the community as a whole.

“With programs like this, we can promote positivity and the creators who are trying to bring about good,” Saffold said. “There’s room for all types of creators on YouTube, but we can help drown out some of the negativity by focusing on the positives and sharing more positive work from talented creators.”